Authors: Maeve Binchy
“A WONDERFULLY ABSORBING STORY ABOUT PEOPLE WORTH CARING ABOUT … [Maeve Binchy] recounts ordinary events … with extraordinary straightforwardness and insight.… [She] is a remarkably gifted writer … a wonderful student of human nature.”
—The New York Times Book Review
Circle of Friends
“A LOVELY TALE OF FRIENDS AND LOVE AND LIFE.… This emotional stew of relationships boils over, but Binchy’s sure hand brings it back to a simmer, one in which the lovely ingredients … marry so as to guarantee pleasure.”
“STORYTELLING AT ITS CONTEMPORARY BEST.… A SEDUCTIVE READABILITY … draws one through hundreds of pages as surely as a mackerel at the end of a hooked line.”
“A LOVE OF A BOOK.… Warm, chatty, deceptively undemanding, Maeve Binchy’s novels of contemporary Ireland are pure pleasure to read.”
The Anniston Star
“AS CHARMING AND WELCOME AS A CHEERFUL PUB ON A DRIZZLY EVENING IN DONEGAL … SATISFYING AND ENJOYABLE.”
—Detroit Free Press
“BINCHY’S AT HER IMPISH BEST playing telephone amongst the villagers, reporting the wildly disparate ways they process events.… [She] brings her habitat to life warmly, fully, and from [myriad] viewpoints.”
“DARING, SUBVERSIVE, REMARKABLY INVENTIVE … AN ALMOST PERFECT HANDBOOK ON ‘HOW SHALL. I LIVE?’ ”
Los Angeles Times
“THERE ARE NO GLITZY CHARACTERS, glamorous settings, improbable plots or impossible sexual feats, just engaging, compelling, well-written stories about likeable, complex people.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“THE IRISH ARE NOTED FOR THEIR SKILL IN SPINNING YARNS, the woven kind and the storytelling kind. Dubliner Maeve Binchy is a past master at the latter craft.…
Circle of Friends
is a charming, gossipy
“A WONDERFUL NOVEL.… It is not difficult to believe that our first lady, Barbara Bush, is a great fan of Binchy’s work. They both have a quality of mature reflection, and, dare we say it, wisdom?”
“A LONG BOOK, TO BE SURE, BUT IT IS FAST-PACED THROUGHOUT, AND WHEN IT IS OVER, THE READER IS SORRY TO SEE THE CHARACTERS GO.… More than any other of Binchy’s novels, this one begs for a sequel.”
San Diego Union
“MS. BINCHY … IS A GENEROUS WRITER—generous in her pages, generous with incidents, generous with laughter, generous with tears.
The Dallas Morning News
PRAISE FOR MAEVE BINCHY AND HER WONDERFUL HEART-WINNING NOVELS
“LAUGHTER AND TEARS; IT’S WHAT BINCHY DOES BEST.…
[is] a great story told with gusto, humor and, most of all, sympathy.”
—San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
“Maeve Binchy’s considerable gifts of storytelling and fine-tuned characterization are in full play in
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“In the time it takes to read
, you’ve become a resident of Mountfern, and cannot bear to see it irrevocably changed.”
Los Angeles Times
“Maeve Binchy is a grand storyteller in the finest Irish tradition of Frank O’Connor, Sean O’Faolain, and Edna O’Brien.… She writes from the heart.”
—The Plain Dealer
Light a Penny Candle
is an Irish
… complete and rewarding.”
Books by Maeve Binchy
CIRCLE OF FRIENDS
A Delta Book
First published in Great Britain by Century Hutchinson Ltd.
Delacorte Press hardcover edition published December 1990
Dell mass market edition published November 1991
Delta Trade Paperback edition / June 2007
Published by Bantam Dell
A Division of Random House, Inc.
New York, New York
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved
Copyright © 1990 by Maeve Binchy
Delta is a registered trademark of Random House, Inc., and the colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.
To dearest Gordon with all my love
he kitchen was full of the smells of baking. Benny put down her school bag and went on a tour of inspection.
“The cake hasn’t been iced yet,” Patsy explained. “The mistress will do that herself.”
“What are you going to put on it?” Benny was eager.
“I suppose Happy Birthday Benny.” Patsy was surprised.
“Maybe she’ll put Benny Hogan, Ten.”
“I never saw that on a cake.”
“I think it is, when it’s a big birthday like being ten.”
“Maybe.” Patsy was doubtful.
“And are the jellies made?”
“They’re in the pantry. Don’t go in poking at them, you’ll leave the mark of your finger and we’ll all be killed.”
“I can’t believe I’m going to be ten,” Benny said, delighted with herself.
“Ah, it’s a big day all right.” Patsy spoke absently as she greased the trays for the queen cakes with a scrap of butter paper.
“What did you do when you were ten?”
“Don’t you know with me every day was the same,” Patsy said cheerfully. “There was no day different in the orphanage until I came out of it and came here.”
Benny loved to hear stories of the orphanage. She thought it was better than anything they read in books. There was the room with the twelve iron beds in it, the nice girls, the terrible girls, the time they all got nits in their hair and had their heads shaved.
“They must have had birthdays,” Benny insisted.
“I don’t remember them.” Patsy sighed. “There was a nice nun who said to me that I was Wednesday’s child, full of woe.”
“That wasn’t nice.”
“Well, at least she knew I was born on a Wednesday … Here’s your mother, now let me get on with the work.”
Annabel Hogan came in carrying three big bags. She was surprised to see her daughter sitting swinging her legs in the kitchen.
“Aren’t you home nice and early? Let me put these things upstairs.”
Benny ran over to Patsy when her mother’s heavy tread was heard on the stairs.
“Do you think she got it?”
“Don’t ask me Benny, I know nothing.”
“You’re saying that because you
“Was she in Dublin? Did she go up on the bus?”
“No, not at all.”
“But she must have.” Benny seemed very disappointed.
“No, she’s not long gone at all.… She was only up the town.”
Benny licked the spoon thoughtfully. “It’s nicer raw,” she said.
“You always thought that.” Patsy looked at her fondly.
“When I’m eighteen and can do what I like, I’ll eat all my cakes uncooked,” Benny pronounced.
“No you won’t, when you’re eighteen you’ll be so busy getting thin you won’t eat cakes at all.”
“I’ll always want cakes.”
“You say that now. Wait till you want some fellow to fancy you.”
“Do you want a fellow to fancy you?”
“Of course I do, what else is there?”
“What fellow? I don’t want you to go anyway.”
“I won’t get a fellow, I’m from nowhere, a decent fellow wouldn’t be able to talk about me and where I came from. I have no background, no life before, you see.”
“But you had a
life,” Benny cried. “You’d make them all interested in you.”
There was no time to discuss it further. Benny’s mother was back in the kitchen, her coat off and down to business with the icing sugar.
“Were you in Dublin at all today, Mother?”
“No child, I had enough to do getting things ready for the party.”
“It’s just I was wondering …”
“Parties don’t run themselves you know.” The words sounded sharp but the tone was kindly. Benny knew her mother was looking forward to it all too.
“And will Father be home for the cake bit?”
“Yes, he will. We’ve asked the people for half-past three, they’ll all be here by four, so we needn’t sit down to the tea until half-past five, and we wouldn’t have got to the cake until your father has the business closed, and is back here.”
Benny’s father ran Hogan’s Outfitters, the big menswear shop in the middle of Knockglen. The shop was often at its busiest on a Saturday, when the farmers came in, or the men who had a half day themselves were marched in by wives to have themselves fitted out by Mr. Hogan, or Mike the old assistant, the tailor who had been there since time immemorial. Since the days when young Mr. Hogan had bought the business.